Should We Copy Jesus’ Mission Strategy? (Luke-Acts Parallels Part 2)

Jesus Teaching in Synagogue

I really want to see in my day what I see in the New Testament. In its pages I see the gospel multiplying out across the Roman Empire reaching rich and poor alike. I see disciples being made, churches being planted and leaders being sent to new places that have yet to hear the good news.

When I see these extraordinary events, I feel compelled to ask myself, “what’s it going to take to see this happen in my own city?” That makes me start to think that maybe if we do what they did in the Bible, we might just also see what they saw.

In my intro Bonus Bible Episode, I made the case that as the author of Acts and of the gospel that bears his name, Luke was trying to suggest that the leaders of the early church were copying Jesus’ mission strategy. I have found that the results of the actions of people like Peter and Paul look eerily similar to the outcomes of Jesus’ actions.

So if the early church tried to make disciples like Jesus made disciples, why shouldn’t I try to do the same?

Where’s the proof?

In the aforementioned podcast episode, I went over the evidence that showed how the disciples in Acts patterned their ministry off of Jesus’ model in the gospel of Luke. The author showed the parallels in three ways:

  1. Direct Quotes
  2. Similarly Structured Stories
  3. Overarching Narrative Patterns

I’ll go over how Luke did this in three successive blog posts, this being the second.

Similarly Structured Stories

Road to Emmaus and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Jesus talking to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and Philip meeting the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40) are probably the clearest similarly structured stories. The parallels are too strong to simply brush off to chance.

  • Jesus finds two men on a road leaving Jerusalem. The men had been seeking the Lord and are confused
  • Philip finds an Ethiopian eunuch on a road leaving Jerusalem. The man had been seeking the Lord and is confused

  • Jesus explains to the two men how the scriptures point to himself
  • Philip explains to the one man how the scriptures point to Jesus

  • Jesus performs an ordinance with the two men, the Lord’s Supper
  • Philip performs an ordinance with the one man, baptism

  • Jesus disappears suddenly
  • Philip disappears suddenly

One aspect of the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch that strikes me is that the Holy Spirit orchestrated it all. The Holy Spirit more or less directed Philip to act in a similar way to Jesus.

So this may be an indication that if we rely on the Holy Spirit, our work will look a lot like the works that Jesus did.

Bringing the Dead Back to Life

Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Luke 8:41-42, 49-55) and Peter raises Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-42) in very similar ways.

  • A girl gets sick and dies and two men come to get Jesus so that He could heal her
  • A woman gets sick and dies and two men come to get Peter so that he could heal her

  • A great crowd was weeping and mourning for the girl
  • A great crowd was weeping and mourning for Tabitha

  • Jesus sends everyone outside except for Peter, James, John and the girl’s parents
  • Peter sends everyone outside except for himself

  • Jesus raises the girl from the dead by saying “arise” and taking her by her hand
  • Peter raises Tabitha from the dead by saying “arise” and taking her by her hand

It seems like Peter saw Jesus raise the girl from the dead, and afterward decided to follow Jesus’ model in his own ministry when he had the opportunity to raise someone from the dead.

Can We Apply This?

There are more stories that have similar parallels as these two. However, I found that these best show that Luke-Acts have similarly structured stories.

This encourages me that my ministry can look a lot like Jesus’ ministry, but doesn’t have to be a 100% carbon copy. I mean, since I live in an entirely different culture, of course my ministry can’t be a carbon copy of the ministry of Jesus.

But I do always try to find principles that still transfer over to my mission work. Like from the stories of Emmaus and of the Ethiopian, I learn that God has made certain people hungry for the Word. So instead of trying to plead and convince every single person to believe in Jesus, I should focus on finding those that God has already prepared to hear the gospel.

That’s my thought, but how would you try to apply this principle to your ministry?

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